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Yes, Northern Health has no active COVID-19 cases, but less than three per cent of the region has been tested

Local tourism encouraged, but public health guidelines should still be met
Northern Heath recorded cases - July 1, 2020
As of July 1, 2020, all 65 test-positive COVID-19 cases in Northern Health have fully recovered. (via B.C. COVID-19 Dashboard)

Yes, northern B.C. is vast.

Yes, Northern Health has the largest region to monitor and serve in a given year.

But, given the loosening of some restrictions in B.C. recently, and there's no active cases, such as the promotion of inter-provincial travel, that doesn't mean we're out of the woods from the COVID-19 pandemic yet.

Let's break down some important numbers.

As of June 30, the health authority has confirmed 65 positive cases of the virus and all of them have fully recovered, no longer requiring isolation.

However, less than three per cent of the region's population has been tested, meaning there's potential for the virus to return if public health guidelines, recommended by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, aren't continued to be met.

According to Northern Health's Service Plan, dated for 2019-20 to 2021-22, a range of health care is provided to 285,524 residents.

Of that number, only 8,156 people (2.85 per cent) have been tested in the region since the pandemic landed in B.C.

Throughout May and June, nearly 5,300 COVID-19 tests were conducted by Northern Health, which averages to 88 per day.

Dr. Henry has yet to report a new COVID-19 case for the north in the last three weeks since Tuesday, June 9, making it 66 cases at the time.

The following Friday (June 12), she noted a data-collection error and retracted one case, dropping the health authority's total to 65 and hasn't budged since.

Fortunately, and arguably the most important statistic to date, nobody in Prince George or northern B.C. has passed away from the virus.

So as the province moves into Phase 3 of its restart plan, the health ministry and its authorities continue to urge the public to be considerate of those around you, even if the region is on the lighter side of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials are encouraging local tourism for the summer as some businesses begin to reopen with those social-distancing measures in place.

Dr. Henry also announced this week long-term care homes and assisted-living centres will be able to allow visitors moving forward, but will be done 'slowly' and starting with just one at a time.

"British Columbians have flattened the curve, single-site staffing is in place and facilities have been given the additional resources to safely allow for seniors and Elders who have been separated from their loved ones to connect once again," she said.

"Like many other areas within our province, with safety plans and precautions in place, we can now slowly and thoughtfully move forward."

Dr. Henry says to continue to wash your hands frequently, stay home if you're sick and to try and to wear a mask if you can't be more than six feet away from people.

For more information, you can visit the B.C. COVID-19 Dashboard created by the BC Centre for Disease Control.